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and the very first talk I think I gave it a yute ism was called effing the ineffable which might have been a possible time for for the conference today but that's not what I'm going to
talk about today that was back in 2006 okay so I'm absolutely not a religion scholar unlike our first two speakers this morning that's not going to prevent me from saying a few things as people
who know me know that I'm not generally stopped in many pieces I read about religion and science particularly the religious sighs is characterized by
especially the people who are against it in terms of another just a number of distinctive sorts of things first a set of myths patterns of myths and stories about fathers and sons gods and
goddesses spirit worlds the origin of the world transubstantiation and so on and so forth along with percentages whom who figure large like Jesus Muhammad and Buddha and Vishnu and who knows else
secondly especially in the case of the Abrahamic faiths the religions are characterized in terms of what I'm going to call fact of beliefs in particular to
be religious is to assent and not only to believe but to commit yourself to to pledge allegiance to various sentential propositions that God exists that there's an afterlife and so on and third
of course paradigmatically in religious traditions as well as the stories in the myths and the and the beliefs that you're supposed to subscribe to there's good and evil obvious often manifested in various different forms with different actors playing different roles
and so on in discussions of science and religion it's often the fact if beliefs that come to the fore probably because science to traffic sin in fact that beliefs that bodies are made of cells
and energy is conserved and worlds closed causally closed and so on and so forth and because on the face of it the fact of beliefs of the religious traditions and the fact of beliefs of the religious traditions seem at odds
seem at odds and in fact there being at odds is often the topic of some of the science religion discourses and my reaction to those discourses is basically just to be kind of truthful complete frustration
the myths and stories in person is just in my sense aren't the point their vehicles at least in any sense of religious traditions that I have their vehicles for this understanding not the
religious understanding itself and the conflicts in statements of fact I don't even find them particularly interesting they're hardly surprising most of the religious myths with which were familiar
were forged in the 7th century and early thousands of years ago sometimes well before the development of natural science and it's not surprising that our sense of the world has changed a lot since then so it's not a surprise that walking on
water or having four or eight arms or a hundred arms or being visited by spirits and so on are viewed with suspicion but it seems to me these stories in these claims are besides the point they're certainly beside the point
respect to anything I'm gonna talk about today so that's it for them um what do I take religions to be I think I can convey a sense even if it in detail it's harder to say just a note I'm going to
avoid the word religion itself just the count noun which I think of as a sort of imperialist category to develop by certain imperialist civilizations to name metaphysical world views that were alien to them to the extent I use the
r-word at all I'm going to talk about religious traditions or a little bit about what it is to be religious and what I take the religious traditions to be actually it ties into things that said this morning I think of them as
socio-cultural efforts to frame an answer and pass on to future generations ultimate issues ultimate questions historically warn strategies that people have developed to formulate their
deepest wonders and wondering to give voice to their most profound understanding of what matters to reach beyond their daily concerns to consider issues of sweeping gravity to found their sense of normativity and ethics to
develop a moral compass with which to chart a navigable course through the trials and tribulations of mortal life and in general to forge a sustaining intelligible account of what it is to live life significantly
now that raises an obvious question is it possible to frame some of these insights in ways that are hypoallergenic to a contemporary scientifically trained Sensibility sometimes I mean to some
extent I think it is so I'm gonna give it a shot here's one I grew up in a kind of strange but nevertheless Christian tradition and here's my three words summary my elevator speech of
Christianity that love Trump's justice there's more to Christianity than that as I believe the introducer would would admit but when enriched with appropriate understandings of compassion forgiveness
without watering down justice understood in a way that doesn't underestimate the importance of other things those three words don't do a bad job of summing up what at least I took from the Christianity I grew up with what about
God well that's not a word I use at all if pressed I would lean in the direction of tire dresser day and towards something like God being the ground of being now I've actually never read tired
or sure down as I say I'm not actually a real scholar at all so so I don't really know what I'm talking about but nevertheless the point is that I take the conception of God of the people who
write against religion in favor of science to be pretty much besides the point and not only that my sense is that the most religious people I know also tend to not take seriously the conception of God that is held by those
that are arguing vociferously Antti religiously I especially like a comment of fergus Kerr was a religious scholar a devout Catholic priest in Edinburgh who tends to say to people tell me about this God you don't believe in I suspect
I don't believe in him either so what I tend to take God talk as being is something like a profoundly humble orientation to that which transcends
human understanding for surely that is a common theme throughout the religious traditions whether theists or not not only of orientation to and deference towards and but also originally
originally dependence on the ultimate which is profoundly inexorably and unutterably beyond our grasp our comprehension and our words I know that Allah is greater than I know
him to be says the MOE ism or something that surpasses all understanding the burning bush right you can't look God in in the face this sense that it's kind of browning to
the max that the world that constitutes us the world in which we are inhabit is much bigger than we normally than what we normally mean by world in fact world might not be the best word to talk about
it in terms of maybe the totality or something and that what there is in toto transcends us but deserves our attention in what more ways than we can imagine so
that's kind of my sense of what that talk is about what about the actual beliefs now I can't answer about these beliefs except by telling a story and this story I have to acknowledge my father I can't basically say anything about this topic without acknowledging my father he had such a pervasive
influence on me that I don't think I had a friend come to visit my parents once someone was going out with and she said in the plane home you didn't add much do you so anyway so while I was 16 I came
home and I said look I don't think I can be religious anymore cuz I don't believe all the things that they're telling me to believe now my dad wasn't too easy to elegance he said if they require you to say that you believe in things in the
sense of ascending to the truth of this or that proposition then you have to leave belief didn't originally mean that it had to do with love credo meant give your heart the idea that to be religious
is to assent to propositions is this a historically new idea only a couple of hundred years old which is fatal to what matters most about the religious traditions there's just one problem he said if you will check the religious
traditions you're gonna thereby lose the vocabulary in terms of which to talk to your closest friends about what matters most so I said what is it to be religious and
he said to find the world significant so forget the stories forget the fact if propositions even life three word effective preposition about Christianity and discard to the pernicious the
xenophobic the blinkered by no means do I think everything distilled in religious traditions is worthy of retention and discard to the tribal if I could get rid of one thing in the world I would get rid of tribal sectarian
Allegiance but instead recognize that these tradition embodies these traditions embody humanity's best understanding human a centuries of our deepest insights Ășltima see and ask the
following question how in the 21st century in words that mesh without compromise with the very best in science in words that don't violate our contemporary understanding of the world in words that are progressive inclusive
culturally sensitive how in such words can we express or at least make room for wrestle with coalesce our standings of derive insights and wisdom from traditions issues of maximal gravity the
things that matter most how are we going to deal with these issues and then also to bring this towards cognitive science how can we recognize that reaching for
such understanding of ultimate to see striving to it to understand it and to express such understanding has been as fundamental a fact about the minds that we study as any in the history of the
human race part to science that's it for religion science is shorter I want to tell a just solo story about the foundations of science I'm going to run roughshod over bacon and
Locke and God knows who else but still I think getting at something that matters about the scientific method now I said science is shorter but it's more complicated than Christianity apparently because the best elevator speech I could come up with is four words not three
defer to the world because I take it the fundamental project of science since the beginning has to be to examine the world and to derive an understanding of the world from the world an understanding of
nature of whatever you want to call it not from divine revelation not from logical reflection not from the authority of sages but from that which is beyond us towards which we are in fact directed figure the world out and
then try to test or verify or reproducer validator communicator whatever your ideas to see that they're worthy as best you can come up with series whatever but
here's the bottom line I think about the scientific method if words and world disagree the world winds adjust your words that makes it not like programming
and like some other parts of engineering the the the amount of programming is if worlds and word disagree debug the world science isn't quite art either it's not just the expression of a creative
imagination inside I think it's an attempt to come to grips with that which is beyond us in the best way we can not only beyond us in the sense of outside of our own heads and mishegoss but up beyond us in the sense
of things we don't yet understand moreover since the beginning this sense of science of sort of understanding that which is beyond it's been accompanied by
a senses of magnitude and mystery and wonder and and someone behind scientific discovery especially in the beginning inspired by the microscope if you look back or the telescope certainly humility
engendered by Copernicus have decentered us census of vasus and inscrutability the fact that even though we start to get a glimpse of what's going on what it is that we don't understand tends to outstrip what we do understand by more
and more and more the more we look moreover this sense of deference and mystery about that which is beyond our kin is not just restricted to the empirical if you read Brittles
incompleteness results or Turing's proof of the limits on County Bureau the computability the humility of recognizing what's what's not accessible to human knowledge is just amazing a
long long time ago a hundred years ago I went up this gravel road in the Yukon called the camel road up to the summit of the Mackenzie mountains and at the top even though I had a four-wheel-drive vehicle you couldn't keep going because the road just is integrated but you
stand on this Ridge and you look out and there's the vastness of the Mackenzie Delta and the plains of Northwest Territories and you're looking Northwest and you have this sense of oh goodness gracious you know if I started walking the first person I might meet would be
in Moscow that's trivial compared to the sense of wonder that you get when you actually recognize what these theorems were doing now some of you may be
screaming certainly a lot of my graduate students would be screaming what I've just described they would say is a culpable romantic fantasy about science an imperialist conceit onto
which science studies and feminist epistemology and post-colonial studies and critical theory and post structural and a whole bunch of other parts of the university have heat doll up after dollop of excoriating critique all that
happens in science they assert our contingent practices of knowledge production controlled by contestable regimes of power all we do is circulate documents maneuver professionally position ourselves for funding and so on
now I know all this and we'll give it any minute but I think we have to understand more about this founding this vision because I think there is something in this founding vision to which these critiques are for a reason
will come to understand constitutively Blonde so go back to the emergence of this romantic conception of Sciences there's some evidence I believe although I'm not a historian of science either
actually is nothing much I actually am so I'm don't press me on anything um my sense at the end of the 19th century is there was a kind of arrogance that emerged that we would actually get a
grasp on reality that God wrote in mathematics wrote the world I'm not in mathematics and that a kind of total if not totalizing comprehension was actually within sight but the 20th
century - any such vain hopes far from being comprehensible the world turned out to be stupefyingly incomprehensible far more profoundly than anyone except possibly religious
mystics could have possibly thought before then certainly there's nothing out there like the sort of ordinary furniture of the world that we think of objects properties and relations and stuff but think about what else there is
that in fact challenged not only our sense that what's out there is what we think in our ordinary mundane ontology but that we're going to be able to ever figure out what what how our mundane ethology actually arises given what's
out there quantum mechanics not only define defied our common sense conception of ontology but it define our sense of logic to how you actually figure out what it is that quantum mechanics is
entak saying relativity I mean quantum mechanics said down at the very small it's stupefyingly incomprehensible and relativity said things are really weird up top to what it's big and Vidkun stein said even if it wasn't weird at the bottom it wasn't weird at the top we
shouldn't trust what's in the middle either it's probably just excessive errors of philosophical language and then you get the incompleteness of mathematics which says we can't think about capturing anything you would think that simple arithmetic would be
something you could capture in a formal system but nope can't be done non computability we write programs for computers but they're facts about these programs that we wanted on the answer to we write the program we can't figure those facts out and it's in principle
that we can't figure them out chaos theory nonlinear dynamics more nails in the coffin of the Enlightenment dream that we're gonna actually be able understand and predict what's going on out there right the tiniest variation
can affect growth properties of a system any year later so basically the 20th century was in my book or maybe on my webpage I don't know if they're books
anymore was in my book a sort of less kind of lesson in humility over and over and over again about the adequacy of epistemology with respect to in fact the
nature of the reality so these things basically buttress the sense of humility that I think arose that underlie early science and also increased our sense of the vastness the majesty and the
ultimate inscrutability of what's out there I don't know if any of you heard Pakistan here but who was Dean of Arts and Science here gave a talk recently at Massey College on the Higgs boson he was actually at CERN part of this and he was
commenting about how that Higgs boson his sense of the most important aspect of the Higgs boson is that it opens up a little bit of a glimpse of there being yet lower levels of physics about which
we as yet have no clue revealed in the fact that the strength of the interaction of the of the Higgs boson with various with Omega particles and God knows what I don't know any physics either it interacts in very different at
very different strengths and in physicists believe it can't be random but nobody has a clue wrong so Pekka was like at the top of the
Mackenzie mountains okay so summary of science the world is surpassingly strange and we reversed surpassingly
small okay part 3 epistemology let's have another big topic let's start to move towards cognitive science now cognitive science to some extent is
science gone reflexive if science is a process of reaching out and trying to understand what's out there then cognitive science you would think should be a study of how it is that people or minds are able to reach out
and try to understand what's out there so the first thing I want to do is to talk a little bit about how people do that how do people understand how is it
that we can pay attention to the world reach out beyond our skins to the Stars to the origin in the universe to the bottom of a salt mine in Japan to the insides of a quark to the things outside
our light-cone with with with which we are prohibited from ever having any causal interaction how it sunny is possible and for that matter how can I even reach out to you and think that you were there rather than just to the two
dimensional laminar surface off of which of light ways are currently bouncing how do I know you're a solid object for example in fact how do I even know that you're there at all as opposed to being preoccupied by what's causally and
painting upon me which is a huge number of variations of electromagnetic radiations pounding on my retina why am I not consumed with thinking that the world is very lightly because of all the
stuff that's pinching on me the answer to this has to do with what word meanings thoughts and theories are like with reference and semantics and interpretation with what philosophers call intentionality but for because it's a more familiar word today I'm just
gonna call our epistemic capacities this topic is anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have to sit through my courses knows is something that I go on endlessly about about how even the
simplest references reach out across the universe to land on and touch you people to arbitrary packages and points of the world without having to do so by sending
any causal signals reference is amazing remember the 18th he had reach out and touch someone I mean reference does this you know AT&T never imagined how good references at this I can refer to the flaking paint on
the northwest corner of the examination room that another Teresa worked in and boom right I'm referring to it it's so Monday our ability to think about the world and refer to the world that it's
almost impossible to understand how astounding an achievement it is especially if you're a physicalist and you believe in the one over R squared kind of causal limits of causal connection to the world and that's
because reference isn't causal in any simple sense the ray of directedness that I direct towards you when I refer to you is is it just bypasses the on
strands luminary doesn't take the speed of light I can refer to the Sun without it taking eight months to eight minutes to be referred to or in dromeda it doesn't ache two and a half million years for this the reference to succeed I just referred to it right now
moreover as I also emphasize the students the fact that reference ordinarily thinking about things in the world is not a causal fact blocks you
from being a billionaire because if it were a causal fact you could build the following iPhone app you could build an iPhone app that people could have on their iPhones which would cause the iPhone to beep anytime anybody thought about them
even though there's a fact of the matter right this very instant as to whether your highschool sweetheart is thinking about you for example not even the NSA can build a detector that could actually
tell and I don't consider wiring up the universe with Reyna scopes and sending everybody's brainwaves out on the ethernet and that's not an answer there's a fact of the matter right this minute about whether your high school
sweetheart is thinking about you you just can't tell but the universe knows that fact is there so the most fundamental fact about words thoughts
and other academic phenomena I believe is that without violating physicalism so somehow in virtue of our physical embodiment in the instrumental scaffolding and cultural embeddings and
lord knows what else somehow our words and thoughts managed to establish these brentano s you know about Brentano arrows of intentional directedness to the outside world and
not only do we refer to the outside world we kind of figure it out we try to get it right both reference and truth if you're a philosopher what the reference and truth are two things are one things on our own
I'll buy you a pint if you're worried better but the point is that reference is deferential and description understanding are deferential to what you refer to this is critical for ethics
you can't give an adequate account of the ethics of a hates I believe unless you understand that what you are referring to if you say pernicious things isn't exhausted by your
conception reference actually travels all the way to the person that you have said this heinous thing about and it gets them it actually gets to them that's why in fact it's heinous if I
think that there's an object somewhere which is actually a person and I said hey you object and it only got to the object because that was my conception then I just wouldn't have been talking
about it either but I'm actually talking to a real person and a real person is more than my words can actually grasp so epistemology to
put this into a elevator speech that would take up to the fifth or sixth floor to say is not involves reference and truth and and and understanding of
the world beyond your causal envelope somehow that's a possible fact about our epistemic capacities and we are committed to doing justice truth and right are in fact doing justice to that
to which we aren't causally coupled that's basically I think the most interesting fact about epistemology okay part four cognitive science I sent a
moment ago that you can imagine what cognitive science should be is an enterprise in which as intellectuals we try to reach out and understand how it is that people our minds are able to reach out and try to understand the
world a project of semantic engines understanding semantic engines if you're a cog side student kind of RIT Hoagland that is if my characterization holds water then cognitive science could with
humility and awe direct its deferential epistemic attention towards how all epistemic creatures defer in order to be able to be normatively and intentionally directed towards a world to which
they're beholdin but what outstrips their grasp now that's a conception of cognitive science that you could fit lots of familiar stuff into some mentioned this morning about the relationship between propositional and non propositional attention and so on
and so forth about how you change propositional attention about different kinds of knowing and so on and so forth about the role of emotions but the point would be you would understand them all as strategies for this kind of
directedness towards what's see I'm not directed towards what's causing here so I knock it apart this kind of normative directedness towards that which is
beyond what can causally impinge on us nor Dov directing this such that you could be in a led cell with walls ten feet thick and you would still be normatively directly towards what you were thinking about and the lead couldn't stop it so
is that the cognitive science we have no not at all and in fact the definition that Tom read this morning about the information processing 1 and also the thing he said which Aikido I don't believe myself but I think he
attributed me but but but I'm gonna buy him a pint two of about studying the physical and stuff that's a radically narrower conception of cognitive science so how did cognitive science end up so
narrow I think there are at least three reasons I'm going to mention three today first Natural Science started out investigating the physical world but
Natural Science was never an attempt to study that part of the world in whatever way it was best studied in whatever way would get at its constitutive regularities in the sense that were it to expand its compass it would change
its methods so as to take on other parts of the world and understand them like politics or date hunt or fidelity or something so then we change its methods to understand those things in the way in
which you would do best to get at their constitutive regularities science is not methodologically neutral that is it was committed to the physical world ontological II but methodological it was
committed to it wanted to come up with causal explanations of everything that came its way and of course we discovered a great deal that can be explained in causal terms science was a big success
more than Microsoft and we're still fitting things into its compass most notably recently through evolution all kinds of other things but it never let
go of its commitment to causal explanations and that is having a huge impact on cognitive science I want to get at the impact that that fact has on cognitive science and computer science
because computer science is really interesting I don't worry I'm in my notes anymore but anyway here's what happened with computer science towards
the end of the 19th century in the beginning of the 20th the concerns of the rational tradition not the empirical tradition not the empiricist tradition but the rationalist tradition got incorporated into science notions like
language and data and interpretation and semantics and reference and syntax and it and identifiers and so on and so forth all these words which were part of logic and logic is constituted not as
being causally explained logic is a system that relates its causal structures to that to which it is semantically oriented so what a computer
science do here it's taken on this epistemological subject matter which can't be captured within causal terms and tries to incorporate it into science now there are two things they could do
they could have said this look we're taking on any subject matter because of what we said about reference and truth which are pretty big important properties of this stuff we can't understand our subject matter in turn
cause 'el terms we have to deal with it in terms of something like a form of relationality which is non reducible non causally efficacious and even if they ultimately super mean on the global
physical configuration of the world nevertheless their regularities can't be constitutively explained physically so we have to do the ball we have to change science we have to change it in the way
I suggest it we have to change it so that its methods do justice to the phenomenon that it's taking on and we're gonna go on strike until the grand universal theory of academy of scientific methods license is up to let
go of being pledging allegiance just to causal explanations and gives us some more and then will actually relax into stuff now of course I didn't do that but they not only didn't do that they did something perverse they continued to
call all of the things they were studying language and reference and data and variables and interpretation and semantics syntax and identifiers and information and so on and so forth but what they did is they changed the meaning of all the
words so that now in computer science all those words have changed their meaning not to refer to the reach beyond the causal envelope in order to in fact be right and stuff they've changed the
words to mean causal local things the net result is I can no longer give a talk in the computer science department even though I have an appointment there um because I don't think about that
either so here's I mean that's what they think here's the problem if I try to talk about what I think is constitutively important about symbols like their ability to refer to the world and their truth and their semantics and
representation and all this kind of stuff they think the words mean what they think they need because they've taken all those words and given them causal meanings which means I have no more words so it's not just my religious
vocabulary I've lost in computer science departments I've lost my epistemological vocabulary too ok so that's the first reason that I think cognitive science is
not the dream I dreamt a few moments ago but has been restricted it's that all of the epistemological vocabulary came into science through computer science and got hobbled down into a causal projection of
it kind of like a projection of the world onto the wall of the causal reductionist cave in a certain sense there's another reason though which is
actually quite different and this one comes not from what something going on inside science but something going on outside science about science in particular I mentioned that the 20th
century was a century of sort of blow after blow of humility on the scientific imagination but something else happened this science which is that it grew increasingly clear that scientific take
on the world isn't innocent language is not transparent neutral completely value free app elusively transparent pair of glasses through which we obtain a conceptual picture of how nature is
rather issues of interest in practicality and fun another cultural phenomenon so on and so forth inevitably intervened not only what we know but how we know what we know and the framing of the understanding we have of what it is that
we've developed a knowledge of and so on and so forth is affected it's culturally bound and so on and so forth lots of voices contributed to this science studies and feminist epistemology and various other things I mentioned before
but the bottom line is that nails were driven in another coffin not just the coffin that determinism equals predictability but the coffin that in fact there's any such thing as a pure objective neutral fee neutral sort of
value free conception of science now I don't think this last one is quite as much of a challenge to science I actually think most scientists I know would agree with it now nevertheless
though science I believe in spite of recognizing that it's not culturally neutral and so on and so forth is still driven by a kind of epistemic deference
to the world beyond it's just a culturally bound interest relative kind of deference but I've lost my slides
here's the problem the problem is that the critiques of science which have come out of SDS and so on and so forth don't allow science to continue to have
epistemic deference to that which is beyond they've actually tried to do in epistemological deference altogether and there's a reason for that why didn't they just say look we mean a situated
local kind of culturally dependent notion of epistemology they didn't and the reason is actually the third thing I want to bring up as to why it is that this dream of a sort of epistemic ly open conception of cognitive science is
not something we have so here's the third reason it's something I call blanket materialism and this I think it's the gravest thing that's happening intellectually at all today possibly because of the success of
science the idea that we should restrict our attention to just those things that are causally explicable has taken root throughout the Academy and it's no
longer just ontological E let's restrict our attention to things that are causally explicable nor is it Nets sorry it's not a restriction to say let's
restrict our attention to obviously causal phenomena or even let's restrict our attention to things that aren't obviously causal but would subscribe to the causal explanation what's happened in my experience especially among
students is that people have come to say let's not just restrict our scientific theory risings but our complete imagination of what exists the things that are causal in other words it's gone from being an ontological assumption and
a methodological assumptions to being a blanket metaphysical assumption anything that exists has to be able to be recorded on a video camera because it is not recorded on a big video camera it
must not exist and what could be recorded on a video camera are things that can in fact generate causal power if I refer to Anna if I'm thinking about it if I refer to you and you take a
video camera down this aisle here you won't see the reference you won't see the reference because reference is not a causal phenomenon in that way it just doesn't generate it and you turn the Latorre he says look I've taken this film of people putting labels into egg
baskets on the edge of a desert Brazil or something like this and what do you see you see lots of labels you see people passing these egg crates around this stuff I don't see any reference there's no such thing as semantics
because it's just not there on the video camera right that's all there are patterns of passing a trait surrounded someone's over but see the problem is this critique has pledged allegiance to this metaphysical idea that if anything
just exists at all it must have causal consequence and I think that's fatal to epistemology and fatal to the mind and fatal to cognitive science I have some riffs here
about for philosophers on how blanket materialism is not the same as eliminative materialism or type reductionism a race other kinds of things so I'm not going to worry about those right now what I want to say is that this kind of
blanket materialism well I find it stunning now maybe I'm just an old fogey I mean I am kind of too old but but it's really interesting because I talk to students about this maybe none of the
ones who are here of course because you can see students are all fabulous but like some other students and I will say well look what's happening if if you're the person you want to go out with and all their high school best friend and stuff they're in Hawaii all weekend
you're in a kind of complete anxious rect and you're wondering if your friend is actually thinking about you or not at all and stuff and the person comes back and and you say well look do you think about me and the person says well there's no such thing as reference but lots of things happen in my brain you
know these symbols got passed around in my AC Delco leave and went up and you know this wire and I made 426 new neural connections and so knows everything and you say what are they about no such thing is about anis you know this just causal pumping and shoving like I mean
prozac's a better approach I I don't think you would be relaxed but if when I try to nevertheless convince people that that reference isn't in fact that causally detectable phenomenon people sort of sort of think well no that can't
be right it's got to be if it exists and so therefore it can't be it can't be the subject of science or it can't be the subject intellectual inquiry at all so that's why people scream I think with my
conception of science and that's why the attacks on science aren't actually able to say let's have a situated culturally sensitive you know humanely modest kind
of kind of epistemology that is nevertheless recognized as the effort the epistemic deference that in fact science and we have to that which is beyond us and that which is ultimate and stuff because they're victims of blanket
materialism which is wiped anything about epistemology off the electron map so conclusion you might be blood three morals in particular I have to be a little Christological since that's where
I came from first sciencing its conduct and cognitive science in its subject matter should recognize two profound humilities
I believe one the world transcends us in our comprehension in more profound ways than we ever imagined even if at the same time we recognize that that which transcendently and magnificently
transcends us is what we are of is what we're in and is what we're directed towards second the ways we take the world even if modestly and partially and
so on and so forth and through a glass darkly are inevitably influenced by our local participation in the world we don't escape our particularity our modesty are located or locally buffeted circumstances in order to view the world
from it out or to put this into an elevator speech we're not all that's here the fundamental truth of realism but we are here the fundamental truth of
constructivism moreover we should recognize in our cognitive science that knowing these things that were not all that's here and that we are here and that our being here affects what we know
about what we aren't that which is beyond us is constitutive of being a mind second of course again both in our conduct and in our subject matter we
should recognize the deferential stance towards the world that undergirds all of epistemology and we should recognize that epistemology is constitutive of mind and therefore that the mind is a normatively laden beholdin relation I
mean did ment mentality being a mind is a normatively Laden beholdin relationship to the world not something explicable in totally causal terms third
cognitive science in particular might take as there are projects something like this to understand how pictures made of clay can not only be deferentially oriented towards that which transcends them but also is how it
is that such creatures made of clay have and do recognize that that towards which their deferential relation that towards which they are deferentially related outstrips their own comprehension how do
we know that there is more than we grasp that seems to me a real candidate for a mark of mentality so I just want to
close one clock comment about this pesky term world that I've been talking about when science started it may have been thought that it was restricted to the physical world it wasn't obvious back
then what relation that physically conceived or physically conceivable world bore to the totality all that there is it still isn't obvious debates continue to rage and opinions to differ about
whether mathematics and reason and logics and types and numbers and scientific laws and a passel of other things are part of this world and if so in what sense but two things seem to me
clear for cognitive science first it's hard to argue that our intellectual knowledge and perhaps our scientific knowledge should be restricted to part of the grand totality of everything that
is if for no other reason we shouldn't think that it's restricted to part of what there is because nobody can any longer divide the world into two parts in any easy way it was obvious for Descartes he thought the mind wasn't
spatially extended and the body was and so that was fine body could be understood by science but suppose we assume Descartes and revived him gave him a cup of coffee and said look do you realize that since you were last around
we have actually demonstrated that space and time are inexorably Co constituted you thought the mind was temporal but not spatial that's not actually a logical possibility nor what do you think will you come talk at you to zone
24 16 we should invite him moreover if as cognitive sciences we're studying minds
and minds our epistemic entities people our epistemic creatures who are in fact normally beholden to and and deferentially epistemic ly oriented towards anything at all then if we're
gonna take the epistemic character of mind seriously we have to be able to think about what it is that the minds we study are thinking about our subject matter can't be narrower than the minds
were considering studying if we're to take on this dream because we won't understand what it is that that mind is doing except with reference to that
which it's about so maybe other Sciences can restrict their attention but I don't think we can so by the world mumbles done by the world I think we
have to meet everything that exists sometimes I call this in classes I don't know if any of you have been in such classes I call this TW as an ambiguous acronym for the world or for that which
in the sense of that which we refer to that which exists that which surpasses all understanding and so on and so forth but words aren't a point any more than
the religious myths and stories we were were the point when we started the point is that if we're going to develop an epistemological e sound conception of an epistemological 'i drenched and oriented mind which i think we're a long way from
then there's little in my mind that the religious traditions have wrestled with over the course of the centuries that we should not ask enough scientists be wrestling with as well not just with lines being religious thought maybe we
should study that as well but we have to understand what it is to wrestle with questions of Ultima see because that's one of the things is constitutive of our mentation and to needless to say though I've been saying
it all day in order to do justice to that which matters most about the epistemic character of mine we must thereby embody in our own conduct as practitioners of the new science and recognizes constitutive of
our subject matter because we understand the mind we must body embody and understand deference to and humility in the face up and awe towards that which all right thank you
so do you want I'm gonna give a little direction or any people seem to be moving as if they have questions right I've been given some hints on what it's like to manage questions from you and
I'll I'll pass them on the advice is to line up and orderly it's like you're doing but the advice gets more complicated to make orderly questions to
make singular questions not to make long speeches that have our speaker asked is there a question there so I challenge you to two succinct well-formed
questions that we respect and have deference to each other is it one sentence max I didn't say elevator questions but I'm not I'm not counting
punctuation I'm asking you wrapped and right I had a question about how it is that someone in the different sort of standards for knowing whether or not you've improved your understanding so in
the causal inference world you can imagine someone saying oh I know that my understanding has improved because I have more control over the world than I did before I can tip you late things and move them around but someone who's
taking the I think you called the relationality position like how do they know that they're getting any more understanding beyond just that it feels more satisfying to them this account
versus some other one or is that enough okay so a couple things um you might not
know really what's going on in the Middle East is the following I might not know for 30 years whether I'm right
number two I think the whole issue of of what it is to develop a sense of the world of a sort of intelligible sense of the is I mean that's the Russell Whitney
Cosby of science it's not by a large wrestled width and logic any tricky I mean he was a great example somebody went to somewhere remote part of the world probably Mars or something I don't want to insult any part of Israel and
ask the people there look I've got him telling his desk IFS married just left with Bob instead of her husband gone good gone Bob's wife
and the person says and so the person is marked is not understanding now that's a
pretty it's not clear people have senses of formal possibility so evaluating whether somebody sense of the world is
accurate and here's the thing that I think is most about lots of people that I said some stuff talked about
stabilizing I'm not interested in stabilize I'm interested in having conception of our reasonably stable world and those aren't the same thing yesterday I wanted to I've got to get a
pop tomorrow so here's three different words tomorrow today yesterday it's not very stable so once I stabilized it on tomorrow so today I thought I was gonna
give a talk tomorrow somewhere I think it's gonna go talk tomorrow I never really have to prepare my conception but the point is yesterday today tomorrow is not that we stabilize
our conception it's kind of like dancing
in order to hold the world all right I
have two questions but they're really the same question just rephrasing the first question is um why am I the only quantum physicist in the room and the second question is how come cognitive science doesn't really include biology
chemistry and physics in okay I actually helped directly come to the science program at Indiana where there are hundred and fifty faculty involved in 22
departments and I was talking to Anna about this and they could be part I mean whether something is a primary department or not is irrelevant here for example is a question that somebody at Harvard and asked he's a chemist and he
said what did discover when it stumbled on carbon why are carbon rings why needs a company's life why not something else and in some
other galaxies could other chemical arrangements actually have been the kind of chemical arrangements that would have been the right architectures to engender the kind of thinking that we do that chemists should be part of I hear
so I think the question is what matters about our Constitution with respect of which we are able to transcend our own physical bumping and shoving and
actually look out and wonder and I don't think anybody knows how down how deep in the stack is it were we have to go so do you recommend me doing graduate school in cognitive science or philosophy
instead of physics right it's up it's our current Idol here yeah first of all thanks for the talk i
you've mentioned that we have to reframe science and to look about what it's about I have one small problem with that
because the world is way too huge the universe is much too huge and even if we were looking at something like transcendence I feel like there are way too many factors and it would be very
difficult to focus and on any one of them and how do you propose we could experimentally or do you want to do experiments like how could we go about trying to learn about things like faith
and transcendence and the mind well I mean it's a good easy good question I don't want to okay so I can't stand
methodology I think methodology is the worst intellectual disaster of the 20th century because what I think methodology this is actually a fine answer although it's gonna get there in a minute my
worry about methodology is that what people do with methodologies they pledge allegiance to their method and allow their subject matter I have a friend who's a physicist he claims to be the most multidisciplinary person in the
world he can study traffic patterns at any quantum cosmography you know a hundred thousand body problems in the stars you know millicent economies in the South Sahara and whether it actually
helps them in that's on the her birth no problem he studies them all so long as he can use differential equations his commitment is the differential equations and he's neutral about what he writes the differential equations about and I
don't think that's the way to do justice to the world I think we need to take seriously that this is a source study if we're studying cognition and we have to recognize what the matter
about you know I ask students sometimes how would you know whether a program you wrote with such that'll be unethical to unplug the machine it's not obvious you
would necessarily know but if we're studying the mind and you don't think it's okay to kill someone with a Mon but nonetheless we're trying to construct meant machine Minds then we're dealing
with subjects of this kind of ethical gravity and so I think we have to not be pledged we have to not pledge allegiance in advance to it being assigned to it being comprehensible all this kind of
stuff that's what I think the deference basically comes to which is what matters is you what matters is not my project
and I think I'm actually thought of having a conference I think I talked to Jesse about this actually organizing a conference here on the soul of cognitive science in which I always think about this long I wrote this to get some of
the people who were part of the founding of this before they died because most of us are about three six foot under and and say what mattered to you in startings do you realize this is a pretty damn important subject so I think
your question is great I don't think it has an easy answer I think it's great but I just think we have to take seriously that which is our subject right now and
not let it be narrowed by these three things that have been pushing pushing pushing pushing it into this kind of narrow causal box thank you thanks hon yes oh uh hi professor so in your talk
you said that intentionality intentional states right exists it seems to be that say my belief that you tis 'm right here today at you have teen med sorry instead
of say york right that caused you to get here caused me to get here so my question is how can something non-causal or i seemingly caused me to physically be here without going in so you're you're polluted um in the sense you know
some loss maybe but I'm gonna I'm gonna see a racy one because I'm gonna use the philosophy back in the answer um you know this is the fundamental prom at a card right in the question about mental causation in general and that sort of
the standard causally sorry the standard philip analytic philosophy answer is the following your belief as a mental state inside your head has a certain causal shape there's no doubt that that causal
shape caused you to come here shortly but that causal shape isn't the belief that youth ISM is this morning that causal shape is something that in you in virtue of being drenched in this interpretive feel has the content that
in fact is here this morning and the claim is that you in virtue of you're stupefying cleverness have orchestrated the arrangements of your molecules in such a way that given the epistemic ly
interpreted feel that you're in such that in fact this causal shape actually means that you tis omits here this morning you in fact arranged yourself such that the pattern of atoms that is the vehicle of that content in you at the moment will actually cause you to
get et Cie and yet here would that mean that the beliefs are just a phenomenal that and what's really doing all the work is the causal shape what's doing all the causal work is the causal shape so that's a theorem what is the belief doing well
and it was interesting because he wants to belief that his he's gonna raise his arm because his arm you know and I say well look that's a problem because you the belief that your arm if whatever you know that this morning is external its externally established and he said and
that you know that's not what we think of cause of you know given that you actually think that sorry we're gonna protect the equipment um I mean the history of causation extremely
complicated in Newton you know sort of didn't give causal accounts of how stuff worked it's on I mean it's very interesting but but basically if the world settles the content of the belief
then it can't be the content of the belief that's playing a causal role I say to Cyril and Searle says they are there Brian I was younger at the time I'm still your um he says so much the
worse for causation let's just change what it means now that's not an empty suggestion because there is this word because and it's not obvious that physicists should
be allowed to define the most important five letters in because to suit their a priori methodological commitment that the right forms of explanation actually are to give the call to the physical account on the other hand a sense of
causation in physics is pretty strong in the idea of the world's causally closing a song or that's quite a tradition in that notion of cause and basically I think it's true I mean you recognize something that I think every cognitive
science student should know which is if you say my belief caused me to come here that is shorthand for something much more complicated because it can't be that the belief individuated by its
content played a causal role given our current conception of causation so if I were to write an exam question for an undergraduate course
don't worry I won't do it and I say can your belief that youth ISM is tomorrow caused you to get on the subway in the morning and the person said yes and that's fine I probably would fail a person you know that I mean that's the
point right that's the point we have we have hobbled our notion of belief into something that fits into causal explanation in such a way that we've lost the ability to account for its
content thank you yeah I look forward to your PhD dissertation um so that there are at least two errors of scientific thought that you kind of criticized the one one was the the
current conception that everything is is causal and and run was was also the 19th century the romantic arrogant concept that was cured so to speak by by some
some logicians and and and physicists and and and you you didn't really talk very much about about any kind of relation between these these two bodies of thoughts so I'm wondering are are are
both of these on unfortunate conceptions of science rooted in the same presuppositions and and what what what what occurred in in between all of this time to lead us all all the way back
down you know I I mean there is a hubris
in both there's a hubris in both and also I don't think the power that was recognized by the mathematize ation and
causal explanation of the world that can't be underestimated I mean it was staggering and I don't think it's inaccessible to our compassionate understanding how it is that people could think oh my god this is gonna
explain everything but I think there was some maturation number one I think the actual physical results of the 20th century were humbling belong belief but also I think I mean look everyone this
is Descartes you know I still think he deserves tenure the guy said mark but I think in a way one way to understand dualism is he said look the world is stupefyingly complicated just like Muhammad's question a little
earlier let's just set aside all the really hard stuff and just look at a few inclined ball flying down planes and stuff maybe we can actually the thing
about the expansion of science is that starting with pool you know in 18 whatever was forty-eight or something anyway you know a little bit through purse but I've been friggin 879 eighty-three and Russell invited an
audience on this expansion of science to take on intentional phenomena or I think of histological phenomena actually mount an ontological challenge to the adequacy
of the scientific method in the sense of the scientific method being committed to causal explanation and I think we're in the midst of that battle being fought out and I think we're losing
I think causal explanation is the in the ascendancy and it's just gonna run roughshod over real epistemology so so
not too related I guess I think the second one is sort of because of the expansion of the subject matter and the first one was sort of because of arrogance because of the initial yes
okay okay my question is also about causal explanation and science and whatnot so I agree that science shouldn't focus only on things that are causally detectable but I don't think
that's necessarily the point that is made by people who insist on causal explanation an example would be so I know a bob looks like because suppose I have a picture in my head that matches Bob and that's a relational property and
that's not detectable but the reason it matches unless it's a coincidence right is because I saw a picture of Bob right right so do you think that a scientific explanation needs to have a causal
element even if the phenomena itself is not causal yes I'm kind of a physicalist that I think in a way I mean I did try to say this how it all works is in to some
extent because of the total arrangements of all the bumping and shoving bosons and fermions you know if we say look it's not it's not a causal memo let's just get rid of all the causal stuff get rid of all the prayer amounts and bosons you know in the universe and everything
like that let's see if there's any reference left over and you know what no the Crick with respect to the relational stuff is not that it doesn't actually have causal underpinnings but that I'm not sure the causal underpinnings are
intelligible in such a way that the theory of it as a phenomenon like reference can actually advert to them as explanatory concepts at the level at which the expert the the phenomenon is explained so that's a real issue about
reduction but I would also say this think about the light-cone I mean how do we have a notion of a light cone no one has ever had any causal evidence of
anything no one ever you yeah you could say that like well you could count different kinds of evidence aw like most things if
they go at this speed away from me some of them come back but anything that goes faster than this away from me never comes back like that would that would be evidence because it is a difference between things that behave this way and things to behave up and see I think okay there's got to be quick um I think what
we hold our views accountable to is that it gives us a picture of a world or a world I would read Huggins truth Andrew following this the world actually has to honor the standards of being a world
everything has to be in it it can't just do random things and so on and so forth so I think the intelligibility that we actually hold our beliefs accountable to
giving us an intelligible picture of a believable world that's a predicate on the world and that we need the light cone in order to get the world as a whole to be compatible because you know to be intelligible because if you got rid of the like on in the world was just as it were oh that's not part of my
world is part of your world he'll be a mess so I think comprehensibility make the that the world be comprehensible is the
drive not that our accounts be stable but that the world we're struggling to interpret the world that's why I think this goes back to the religious traditions and that's I think ultimately the norm on which all this stuff is
great quick answer I'll buy you a pint - I'm gonna be had a lot of - yeah okay I'll make the best trade-off of brevity and clarity I know how to do okay so my question is about right yeah right to be
significant which is not nihilism is having at least one preference there's at least one thing that you prefer to at
least another thing then you can add to continue to views where someone's able to articulate more and more their preferences is able to articulate it is that's significant to them and so when I'm wondering is do you think that there can be worked on a preference elicitation techniques that they're
currently trying to do to help people at least articulate what is significant about the world no I'm basically not and I'll tell you a story I mean this is a good thing going on because I I really owe as I said this stuff that my father so so he was
president Merrick had a memory of religion one point and and he was asked on stage are you a Christian and he said I don't know about that ask my neighbor
and I think that's a pretty good answer and so my sense is that what matters is you take the world to be significant not that you preferred I think that
arrogating significance into our own preferences is it kind of well I think it's an arrogance I think it's egocentric it's it's thinking that we're the locus of the
mattering and I think the most profound religious insight is that we don't matter so I'm in confidence so you have Metta preferences about other people's preferences though no but I might not
give it any preference I might just think it matters I might just act in a way that maybe it just does matter for what decision right I'm inclined to say for what decision
yeah you're gonna refer to okay all right
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